The Center for Food Integrity’s recently-released consumer trust research shows dramatic shifts in the primary sources consumers go to for information on food system issues. The new survey also contains eye-opening results on the organizations consumers view as most credible on farm animal care and well-being issues.
Early adopting consumers, also known as opinion leaders, prefer online sources for information about the food system, followed by friends and family and their local television station. Traditional media sources, including newspapers and radio, were least preferred.
The research also shows that consumers view non-governmental organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States as the most credible sources about the humane treatment of farm animals. “Impressions about profit motivation drive consumers to seek information from sources they consider non-biased,” according to CFI's Charlie Arnot.
"The research indicates consumers feel information from a non-governmental organization is significantly more credible than a group that profits from the meat industry," said Arnot. "The closer you are to the money, the less credible your information."
Following non-governmental organizations, consumers view farm animal veterinarians and university experts as the most credible sources of information on animal welfare issues.
"The fact that this issue had the lowest believability score among early adopters creates a great opportunity to provide some education to consumers," said Arnot.
After being provided some simple educational material on programs that already exist in the food industry, survey respondents who identified themselves as early adopters were significantly more confident in these statements on food safety:
- The FDA oversees dairy production by regularly inspecting all dairy farms.
- Government food safety agencies are doing a good job ensuring the safety of the food we eat.
- The FDA strictly regulates the use of antibiotics given to animals raised for food.
- I have access to all of the information I want about where my food comes from, how it was produced, and its safety.
"This shows us we can positively impact the attitudes of early adopters by providing information from sources they view as credible," Arnot said.